NORTH PORT, Floride – As the search continues in West Florida’s missing Gabby Petito, police resumed their search on Sunday to locate her fiancé – and the person of interest in his disappearance – in a swampy and wooded reserve in Sarasota.
Petito and her fiance, Brian Laundrie, were on a trip across the country, visiting scenic spots and sharing them on social media. The family reported Petito’s disappearance on September 11 after not hearing from him since August 25; Laundrie returned to their Northport home on September 1 with the van the couple were traveling in – without Petito.
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Laundrie was named a person of interest in the case earlier this week. However, despite pleas to the family and their lawyer, investigators had not heard from the Laundrie family at all until Friday evening, when they told investigators their son had in fact been missing since Tuesday.
Investigators spent two hours at Laundrie’s house putting together things they thought could help them find Brian and hopefully get answers.
A lawyer for the Petito family said Brian was not missing but rather on the run, adding that the Laundrie family’s request for North Port Police to search for their son but not Gabby was “reprehensible and hypocritical” .
Research resumed Sunday morning (photo NPPD)
On Saturday, 50 law enforcement officers from five agencies, including the North Port Police Department and the FBI, began searching the Carlton Preserve, a 25,000-acre park in Venice.
“Brian’s parents reported to us that he was last seen on Tuesday when he went for a hike there. They reported her missing three days later. The North Port Police Department and the FBI are working to corroborate the story, ”the North Port Police Department public said. Information officer Josh Taylor said.
As the first day of Brian’s search drew to a close, FBI agents prepared to search for Gabby in Grand Teton National Park in Wyoming. Taylor said the research was based on investigations into the last place she was allegedly to have been.
Petito’s family said on Sunday that the FBI was aware of a video showing a similar white pickup truck at a campsite in Grand Teton National Park on August 27 – days after their last contact with it.
RELATED: Gabby Petito’s van spotted in footage from stranger in Grand Teton National Park, family say
Meanwhile, a crowd gathered in North Port last night, hoping and praying for Gabby’s safe return. The vigil only lasted about 15 minutes, but those who attended say it was an important way for them to show their support for Gabby’s family.
People were holding signs that said “North Port loves Gabby”. Someone sang incredible grace while others spoke to the crowd.
“We have to find her, don’t we?” Gabby needs to be found, so what I want to do is pray.
“There’s really not much we can do for them other than pray and support them as a community because if you live here in North Port you know it’s a small town. “
RELATED: North Port community shows support and solidarity to Gabby Petito’s family
Investigators are asking the public for help in locating Petito and Laundrie. They say Laundrie is described as a white male, 5 feet 8 inches tall and 160 pounds. He has brown eyes, very short brown hair, cropped facial hair and was last seen wearing a backpack with a waist strap.
Anyone with information is asked to call 1-800-Call-FBI.